10 Interesting Psychological Facts About Love
While folks still insist that love is a purely emotional activity, the scientific community has found in the last few years that it is more than just that. They have found that love can be pretty similar to a chemical reaction at times, and that it is not necessarily a choice whether we fall in love with certain people or not. Just like chemical reactions, there are a combination of indicators we can and can’t see in the process. Some of these indicators are actually chemical reactions themselves, as the body releases chemicals or moderates itself for loss of chemicals. Here are ten psychological facts about love that may alter how you look at someone next time they tell you they’re in love.
Sometimes love can cause people to do things they might not otherwise, like these outrageously creative wedding proposals. There might be a few interesting ideas for those of you considering proposing to your loved ones anytime soon.
It has long been known that rosy cheeks reflect health and virility. Scientists from Stirling University in Great Britain have found that rosy cheeks, particularly those from blushing, are attractive to men. This is reflected in other primates, who tend to prefer mates with red faces. This is mainly a survival skill, as paleness is often linked with being sick, and mating with sick members of the species would often lead to the inability to procreate and keep the bloodline going.
A study at the University of Liverpool found that participants asked to judge digitally altered human faces would often judge those altered to be close to theirs in appearance to be more attractive than the same face altered in a different way – for instance, if a person has close-set eyes, they would deem a face with close-set eyes more attractive than that same face with the eyes set further apart. This demonstrates that we are attracted more to faces that look like ours, or like someone we are already attached to. So next time someone tells you that your date looks like you, or like your mother or father, just tell them that’s nature.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that, even though a person might claim to be looking for certain things in a dating situation, they will tend to ignore those things and evaluate a potential partner almost immediately upon meeting, looking for that certain "it," whether "it" is related to age, height, weight, or attractiveness. Factors such as religion, education, and income go right out the door if a person finds someone who meets the right outward combinations.
When you fall in love, you trigger a number of chemical reactions in your body. The serotonin levels in the brain drop, which leads to obsessive behavior – low levels of serotonin is common in those with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cortisol production is increased, leading to high blood pressure and lack of sleep, causing stress on the body. Finally, circuits in the brain that are in charge of social judgment are suppressed, leading to the inability to block socially inacceptable behavior. All of this translates to a new level of crazy.
Different areas of the brain deal with certain feelings and emotions, but a recent study has found that two areas of the brain that respond to physical pain will also respond to feelings such as social rejection. Being dumped is a form of social rejection, so the idea that breaking up could cause physical pain and discomfort is very real. Not to mention the social discomfort you get the next time you see the object of your desire in public.
Falling in love can help calm the body, and it has been found to increase the levels of nerve growth factor for up to a year. NGFs has been linked to increased longevity and mental capacity, meaning that falling in love at the beginning of a semester could help increase your chances of acing a final exam. It’s not recommended that you use this in place of actually going to class and studying, though.
A researcher at Dartmouth University found that men tend to rate a woman more desirable the more she directs her gaze at the man. Strong eye contact, bordering on staring, demonstrates to potential mates that the person is confident and willing, and knows what they are looking for. If you see a potential mate, prolonged eye contact can signal that both parties are interested and ready to proceed to further steps.
Sweaty palms, increased heart rate, pupil dilation, higher sensitivity to smells and movements – these are all things that happen when you are in love. Of course, they are all things that happen when you are in fear for your life as well. Maybe our body is trying to tell us something?
Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, also known as fMRI, scientists have found that a person who is "in love" displays many of the same results as one who is high on cocaine and other addictive drugs. This has lead scientists to propose that the brain tries to create a certain sense of addiction in the "in love" couples in order to promote fidelity. Everyone know that people will keep going back for the high, regardless of the other damage it may cause – could love be the same way?
We often talk about love at first sight, but scientists have found that you might not even need to see someone to fall in love. Scientists have found that the voice of a person can affect the perceived attractiveness of the person – and that perceived attractiveness corresponds to possible mates who had more sexual partners and who had sex at an earlier age. So if your possible date has a seductive voice, you may want to tread lightly when it comes to discussing past relationships.